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    Start date set for new West Lafayette autism center


    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Cornerstone Autism Center located in Purdue Research Park will begin offering services and specialized therapies on April 20 for children and families who struggle with autism.

    Renovation is nearing completion on this new 8,700-square-foot center that will provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy and related programming.

    “Our goal is to maximize the potential of children with autism and embrace the families who love and care for them. We identified a need for intervention in this area, and we feel that opening a center in the Purdue Research Park would help us provide an important service to Tippecanoe County and surrounding areas,” said David Ide, Cornerstone’s co-founder and executive director. “We use intensive, research-based intervention to move our children forward in the areas of academics, behavior, communication, independence, and social skills.”

    Cornerstone Autism Center, headquartered in Greenwood, Ind., chose April to open its West Lafayette site to align with National Autism Awareness Month.

    “Cornerstone Autism Center will provide a much-needed service for Tippecanoe County and surrounding areas,” said Joseph Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and COO of the Purdue Research Foundation. “Their location in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette will provide opportunities to collaborate with Purdue University and help raise awareness about autism in the greater Lafayette area.”

    West Lafayette grandparent Mary Ann Harrison has an 11-year-old grandson with autism. She is involved in seeking therapies for him, including doing ABA therapy in her home several times a week. Currently, she must engage an ABA therapist from out of town.

    “The ABA therapy has definitely made a difference in my grandson’s progress, and I am excited that our community will have this resource available,” she said. “That means local children will now have the opportunity to have this therapy the entire day if they attend the center.”

    Ide said the center will focus on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis and will provide one-on-one instruction between children and trained therapists.

    “We expect to employ about 30 clinical staff made up of therapists, clinical coordinators, board-certified behavior analysts, and doctors to serve our children,” Ide said. “Every child faces different challenges, and that requires us to customize every plan.”

    Goals of the center include breaking through barriers to learning to address deficits, improving independence and quality of life. In addition, Cornerstone is poised to give caregivers the resources and training they need, provide a conduit for other resources such as physical therapies, provide logistical assistance such as insurance counseling and claims processing and, if possible, provide transition into a traditional classroom environment.

    Sarah Schout of Indianapolis has a son, Ethan, 8, attending Cornerstone Autism Center in Greenwood, Ind., and is in the process of enrolling her daughter, Ada, 7, in the center. Schout has two other children, Abby, 6, and Elijah, 4, who are in public schools.

    “What David and the whole Cornerstone team have done for my family is priceless. My oldest son has been enrolled in Cornerstone since November, and for the first time ever, Ethan is speaking to us in complete sentences. He is interacting with the family in appropriate ways, and he’s making eye contact with me when he speaks to me,” she said. “The therapists have helped us so much and what Cornerstone has created is a safe place where children with autism can learn and interact on a social level that is so critical for all children.”

    Ide said another goal is to collaborate with Purdue University and its Purdue Autism Network. The network, which is managed through the university’s Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Department, is an interdisciplinary group encompassing more than 30 clinical and research faculty across the university, as well as local professionals in public education and other fields who are dedicated to developing a center of clinical and research excellence.

    Ide and Debbie, his wife and co-founder of the center, understand what a parent faces when their child is diagnosed with autism.

    “Debbie and I have 13-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. Our son was diagnosed with autism when he was two and half years old, and it changed our lives. We understand the impact a center can have on a family and love being a part of that process. Our experience has provided the drive necessary to open our center in Greenwood last year and reach out to this community this spring.”

    “Autism is an issue that we are passionately dedicated to,” Ide said. “We are committed to serving people who, like us, face the many challenges that autism has brought into their life.

    We are excited to be opening a center in West Lafayette, and we look forward to the opportunity of working with Purdue University and other support organizations in the area.”

    Source: David Ide,
    Media contact: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 588-3340,

    Related Web sites:

    Cornerstone Autism Center: Purdue Research Park: